OpenWalls Arles 2021: Meet the Judges

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“Do what you believe, don’t go after other people’s steps, don’t follow trends and fashion, do things that inspire the world.”

This year marks the third edition of OpenWalls, an award that elevates the careers of emerging and established photographers by exhibiting them in prestigious locations around the globe. For the third consecutive year, Galerie Huit Arles will host the OpenWalls group exhibition to coincide with Les Rencontres d’Arles, the world’s most esteemed photography festival.

With the call for submissions closing at the end of the month, we caught up with our international panel of judges about the work they are hoping to see as part of the theme, Then & Now, as well as any advice they have for photographers thinking of applying.

What work are you hoping to see as part of OpenWalls Arles – Then & Now?

“As a curator and avid promoter of emerging photographers, I am always hoping to discover works that will present me with new explorations in visual narrative, imagination and wonder. I hope to see innovative, challenging works that will be inspiring, creative and poetic”
Peggy Sue Amison (Artistic Director, East Wing – Doha, Qatar & Berlin)

“I would like to see works that interrogate our interconnectedness and influence ever-changing identity. Such works will throw light into how the past viewed the present and things that were considered objects of virtue either to an individual, family or community are likely to come to the fore”
Dr Oluwatoyin Sogbesan (Independent curator and cultural historian)

“It is always good to have a surprise. In an image-saturated world, behind the visual impact, I hope there are more layers of thought that can be transmitted to the viewer”
Peipei Han (Independent curator and former Associate Director, PHOTOFAIRS)

© Brenda Turnnidge.
© Anna Zandman.
What advice would you give to photographers who are thinking of applying?

“Do what you believe, don’t go after other people’s steps, don’t follow trends and fashion, do things that inspire the world”

Lau Ching Ping (Chair of Hong Kong International Photo Festival)

“Then & Now can be widely interpreted. When was then? It could have been a split second ago, a different decade, or even a shift in thought. Allow yourself to explore imagery beyond the prompt” 

Frances Jukabek (Director of Exhibitions and Operations at Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York City)

“It’s an opportunity that should not be overlooked. OpenWalls allows inclusive participation of both established and upcoming photographers. Thus removing any form of limitation towards participating and possibly having their works exhibited in a prestigious institution (physically or digitally). I will encourage all photographers to take time out and commit to participating and see it as a way of telling their story from another perspective”

— Dr Oluwatoyin Sogbesan (Independent curator and cultural historian)

© Argus Paul Estabrook.
How important can an exhibition in Arles be in launching new career opportunities for photographers?

“It is a great platform for photographers to be seen by the world and also to learn and be inspired by other artists participating, an exciting exchange of ideas”
Peipei Han

“So many of our introductions to artwork have taken place online, even before the pandemic, and all it takes is one person to get excited about your work to gain momentum. Exposure is everything and the audience for Arles is wide and the organization is admired and trusted within the community”
Frances Jukabek

“I believe that building a network of professionals and peers in the art world is vital to every artist’s career… Arles brings together a wide-ranging audience, which offers opportunities for previously unknown talents to be discovered, and important new alliances to be made in a casual and relaxed atmosphere”
Peggy Sue Amison

Closing soon, OpenWalls Arles is an international photography award designed to elevate the careers of both emerging and established photographers.

Enter today to see your work exhibited alongside the largest photo festival in the world this summer. 

Deadline for entries 1 April 2021 (23:59 UK Time)

For more information on OpenWalls Arles and how to enter visit:

© Wouter Vanhees.
© Tristan Bejawn.